"Batman Forever" Film Review
By: Nathaniel Simpson
Tim Burton had spent two films crafting the world of Gotham on the screen, adapting the comics from DC based on Batman. His movies were edgy, dark and gritty, and enjoyable as they contained rambunctious characters played expertly by popular actors. While I did have my problems with some of the story content present in the two movies, I prefer them over what Joel Schumacher gave us in his 1995 film, "Batman Forever". It seems like Schumacher threw everything Burton created out the window, and presented a cheesy, bright-colored film that is more annoying and cringe-worthy than it is a good Batman film.
Val Kilmer takes over the role of Bruce Banner/Batman from Michael Keaton, who gave great performances in Burton's two films. This Batman is a sort of continuation of its two predecessors, focusing on Batman and his mission to protect Gotham. He is being pursued by psychologist Chase Meridian (Nicole Kidman) and trying to stop the evil Harvey Dent/Two-Face (Tommy Lee Jones), a former district attorney whose face was half deformed after an attack in court. At the same time, Edward Nygma (Jim Carrey), a disgruntled ex-Wayne Enterprises employee, is trying to create a product that will bring down Bruce Wayne and his empire. Assuming the mantle of the Riddler, he teams up with Two-Face to take down the Batman as well, unbeknownst that Bruce dons the mask every time.
The first lines in this film are:
Alfred: Can I persuade you to take a sandwich with you, sir?
Batman: I'll get drive-thru.
If this doesn't give you an idea of what is to follow, I'm not sure what will. This film is over-the-top in the goofiness factor, and I wish I could say it was fun-bad. But, it's not. Well, at least for me anyways. I don't find myself wanting to watch a Batman film that tries so hard to be light and comedic when Burton had perfectly set-up a dark Gotham with a vengeful Batman. From the story to the lighting and the color scheme present throughout the film, Schumacher and Warner Bros. want you to forget about the past two Batman films and focus on Kilmer as Batman.
Kilmer is decent at the role. I certainly don't think he matches what Keaton did, but I have no complaints about him either. He's just sort of middle of the road, a replacement that doesn't work too well. When he takes in Dick Grayson (Chris O'Donnell) towards the middle of the movie, I like the banter he has with the kid, perhaps due to how the dialogue is written. But, that's the only part that really stood out to me throughout the runtime. He does share quite a bit of screen time with Kidman's character, who I honestly thought was a terrible character. They make her seem like she's incredibly smart and head-strong, but she constantly throws herself at both Batman and Bruce Wayne. They present her as neither powerful or someone to look up to.
I don't like the Riddler here. If you have read some of my other reviews about Jim Carrey, it's obvious I don't like his comedic work. His work in dramas like "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" are great, but his comedic personality is annoying and just downright hard to watch. I loathed every second he was on the screen, and kept secretly wishing it would get better. Spoiler alert, it didn't. It seems like they have taken the classic Batman villain and totally changed him into Carrey's mold. He is no different compared to any of Carrey's other characters around this time.
I think Jones was alright as one of the main antagonists. It was interesting to see him in a role like this as he usually plays the serious, hard-ass characters. Therefore, it is really refreshing to see him have fun with a role like this and play such a silly character. In all of the silliness present here, I think Jones was the best thing about the change from dark and serious to comedic.
The story was nothing really to write home about. I actually found this installment quite slow and dull, with nothing big really happening. It feels like the studio hired Schumacher to sort of muddle his way through the plot while they think about where they want to go next concerning this character. It seems like there's a running theme throughout the earliest Batman films - they are plagued with story problems.
I do think Schumacher and Kilmer tried with this film, and while some of it does work, there's a lot that doesn't. I miss the dark, serious tone of Burton's films, and I honestly would have loved to see him take on characters like Two-Face and the Riddler. If Burton was able to make this film in his own way, I think he would have presented a much better film than what we have received here.